committee believes that cooperative research will become an important part of the strategy for meeting these challenges.
The committee believes that a national program for cooperative research can be developed and can succeed. Hazardous materials shippers and carriers, regulators, and emergency responders have long worked together to develop standards, share resources and information, and respond to emergencies. Cooperative research programs have proved successful in several related fields. They demonstrate that such a program can yield widely accepted and useful results.
This study examines the idea of a cooperative research program for hazardous materials transportation, that is, a program aimed at finding solutions to problems and concerns shared by the many parties who would cooperate in defining, coordinating, and overseeing the research. The focus of the study is on determining whether a national cooperative research program would be a useful supplement to existing research in the hazardous materials transportation field. Four federal agencies with central roles in ensuring the safety and security of hazardous shipments sponsored the study: the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Special Programs, Federal Motor Carrier Safety, and Federal Railroad Administrations and the U.S. Coast Guard of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The study committee believes strongly that cooperative research will prove useful, and may be essential, in ensuring a safe and secure hazardous materials transportation system. Nevertheless, bringing it about may require a pilot test to reveal its potential and build interest in a larger-scale program. The fragmentation and diversity of the hazardous materials transportation sector make cooperative research important, while they present challenges to its implementation. A pilot program will do much to determine the value of a cooperative research program. It will demonstrate how well the hazardous materials community can work together, the extent to which shared problems exist and are suited to cooperative research, and how useful a cooperative research program can be in seeking practical solutions to these problems.
A program structure is recommended, and ways of financing, governing, and managing the program are outlined. The four sponsors of this study are urged to pilot test the program concept by pooling a modest